Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
XBox 360, PS3, PC
Not unlike its most maniacal antagonist, Batman: Arkham City is insanely good!
Playing this Superhero Simulator will have you so damn pumped you’ll likely answer every conversational tidbit thrown your way with a stridently roaring of “BATMAAAN!”
Indeed, playing Arkham City is a consuming endeavour. And why shouldn’t it be? Are you a masked billionaire vigilante who hammers justice into a broken city one spinning heel kick at a time in real life?
Whether or not you loved 2009’s astonishing Arkham Asylum, or are even a Batman fan, you need to play this game.
Why? How about the fact it boasts the most arresting, exhilarating, ferociously stunning opening in recent history? Packed with tension, conspiracy, handcuffs, wristlocks and injustice, Arkham City grabs your attention by the neck. And squeezes.
By the time Alfred airdrops your suit via the Batwing you’ll be as hooked as a Riddler trophy snared by the Batclaw!
And as much as this project revolves around the Dark Knight, the real star is Arkham City itself. A massive penitentiary district, Batman has an exceptionally hectic sandbox to play in. Gangs roam the street, harassing political prisoners, committing crimes and generally braining each other. Conversations are picked up on your frequency isolator, combatants can be located using detective mode and criminals can be dispatched using an addictive combination of quick-fire gadgets and coiled fists.
Arkham City is in desperate need of a healthy dose of violenc-I mean, Justice!
This sequel retains the atmosphere and breakneck pace established two years ago and fuses together sandbox exploration, RPG progression and physics based puzzles. A few hours into the experience and your map is speckled with villains to chase, murders to solve, mysteries to unravel, puzzles to crack and random acts of aggression to break-up/instigate.
More “Grand Bat Auto” than Arkham Asylum 2.
But lest your weak heart give out from the 40-50 hours of excitement Arkham City offers, the locomotive onslaught of the Dark Knight’s Justice train is derailed occasionally by Catwoman.
Good thing it’s an astoundingly fresh change of pace. The sceptics out there may need to simply play it to believe it, but Ms Kyle’s unique gadgets, techniques and traversal methods (she don’t wear no cape) make for an entirely different experience in entirely similar surroundings.
The first time you claw atop the ceiling, using your whip to drag a crook screaming from a ledge, you’ll be a Catwoman convert. Best come to terms with that right now!
As ever, Rocksteady craft their titles with love and consideration. And though Arkham City glistens with Bios, Concept Art, Character Models, Tape Recordings and Back-Stories, no-where is this affection more evident that the copious challenge rooms. There’s hardly a drought on marauding murderers in Arkham city but for those completionists keen to foil the Riddler’s condescension, these combat and predator maps will engulf hours.
But the seal of any great game is the strength of its primary campaign. And the narrative of Arkham City wouldn’t dream of disappointing. It features a huge cast, a surplus of twists, an excess of humbling set-pieces and a metric ton of awesome.
And despite its unflinchingly comic-book setting, the characters (voiced by industry talent such as Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and golden boy Nolan North) are vivid, vibrant and vicious. This goes double for the caped crusader who is nothing short of a terror to those obstructing him.
Besides the compelling narrative, there’s a constant influx of new gadgetry, upgrades or gameplay twists. Knife wielding felons, snipers with night vision goggles or mountable Titans lurk around every corner. Arkham City keep you invested, dragging you back and forth across a city in desperate need of a saviour.
It may be the highest praise for Rocksteady to state that Batman Arkham City honestly makes you feel like the World’s Greatest Detective. But I might have higher.
Personally I was supremely, obsessively pumped for Skyrim. Still am.
But realistically, I can’t see myself not playing Batman at any stage over the next few months.